The Flawed Logic Behind NYC’s Weight Discrimination Ban

(AP Photo/Dennis Waszak)

Well, folks, brace yourselves for the latest masterpiece of government intervention – NYC’s groundbreaking law that aims to protect individuals from the horrors of weight discrimination. Yes, you read that right. The authoritarian left has once again swooped in to save the day, armed with their legislative arsenal to fight for the rights of the unfairly marginalized: the overweight. In this article, we’ll delve into the sheer brilliance of this new law and explore the fantastic benefits it promises to bestow upon all New Yorkers.

The New York City Council has passed a bill making it illegal to discriminate against individuals based on their height and weight in housing, employment, and public accommodations. This move is aimed at addressing weight discrimination, which disproportionately affects women, particularly women of color.

The bill, which is similar to laws in six other cities and one state, aims to protect individuals and change the culture surrounding weight-related discrimination. The lead sponsor of the bill, Shaun Abreu, shared his personal experience of weight discrimination, highlighting the toxic culture prevalent in the United States.

“Just recently someone who I considered to be a friend came up to me and touched my stomach and said, ‘we’re getting bigger there buddy.’ And it just speaks to the toxic culture that exists in the United States when it comes to people that are above their average peers weight,” he told CNN.

Jennifer Portnick, a fitness instructor, shared her experience of weight discrimination and how she was denied a job because she did not meet the company’s fitness level requirements. “I was invited to go to tryouts where the regional manager is kind of behind you watching you dance. And after class she told me, you are going be fantastic,” she recounted.

She said the company asked her to [t]ake a photo holding out her arms, parallel to the floor, which was then sent to the corporate office,” according to the report. The letter that the company sent in response said she had “all the qualifications for a potential trainee except for the fitness level required.”

However, thanks to a law in San Francisco that prohibits discrimination based on height and weight, Portnick successfully challenged the policy and brought about a change in the company’s requirements. More than 20 years later, similar laws have been slow to be adopted nationwide, but the passage of the bill in New York City is expected to inspire other cities and states to follow suit.

The bill has faced opposition from the Partnership of New York City, representing the interests of small businesses, which argues that the legislation is overly broad and exposes businesses to costly litigation. Job descriptions that require specific height or weight for job performance will be considered in discrimination cases.

Supporters of the bill, including fat activists, spoke at a hearing and shared personal encounters with weight discrimination, such as difficulties with restaurant and theater seating, weight limits on bikes, and taxi cabs requiring seat belt extenders. Despite concerns about potential costs, advocates believe that the legislation will bring about necessary changes and hope that New York City’s efforts will set a standard for the rest of the country.

The Washington Post noted that “there are no laws explicitly prohibiting this kind of discrimination,” in most areas of the country.

Rebecca Puhl, a clinical psychologist who teaches at the University of Connecticut who studies weight-based discrimination, told WaPo that support for such policies is “increasing.”

Puhl explained:

What that’s attributable to, it’s hard to say. It could be issues like increased awareness of weight stigma. We’re seeing a more vocal body positivity movement, which is helping to raise awareness of this as well. There is an increasing awareness that this is a legitimate issue that policy remedies are appropriate for.

The recently passed law in New York City prohibiting discrimination based on height and weight is, in a word, silly. For starters, by prohibiting employers from considering weight as an essential job requirement, the law may inadvertently compromise safety and performance standards in certain industries. In jobs that require physical strength or agility, such as construction or emergency services, maintaining a certain level of fitness and weight can be crucial for the safety and effectiveness of employees.

This law disregards the unique demands of different professions and places businesses at risk of litigation if they are unable to enforce legitimate job requirements.

Furthermore, the law will lead to an increase in frivolous lawsuits and burdensome costs for businesses. The broad language of the legislation leaves room for interpretation and opens the door for individuals to exploit the law for personal gain. Employers will undoubtedly face baseless claims of weight discrimination, forcing them to divert valuable resources toward legal battles instead of focusing on business operations and growth. Small businesses, in particular, are more vulnerable to the financial strain of litigation and may struggle to comply with potentially expensive modifications to accommodate every individual’s weight-related needs.

Moreover, it will be nearly impossible to prove that a company did not hire an individual because of their weight. This law will only result in a drain on small businesses and taxpayer funds.

This is probably one of the most childish laws I have ever seen. Rather than losing weight and becoming healthy, folks wish to use the power of the government to compel others to do their bidding. Those who don’t want to do the work will simply use their weight as a weapon against companies that refuse to hire them – even if it has nothing to do with their obesity.

The law also disregards the principle of freedom of association and undermines the autonomy of employers to determine the requirements for their workforce. Businesses should have the right to establish job qualifications that are directly related to the nature of the work and essential for maintaining productivity, efficiency, and safety.

Imposing legal restrictions on height and weight considerations in employment is an unnecessary intrusion into the private sector and may have unintended consequences for both employers and employees. But, as long as you can cast yourself as a compassionate soul for supporting such a thing, who cares?


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